Today is Giving Tuesday a very important day for We Connect The Dots. We hope you enjoy this next story and that it will inspire you to support our programs. I look forward to acknowledging our donors across social media, let's make this the best Giving Tuesday possible for our students.
Growing up I did not have many resources available to me. Coming from a low-income household and being a first-generation student, I was not able to stake advantages of many opportunities presented to me since money was always an issue. My schools growing up had a similar problem. They were not well funded and the district is pretty low-ranking when it comes to overall grades. I made the best of what I had. I was a top student in my class and graduated with a scholarship to Columbia University. It was not until I began school at Columbia that I realized how much my school district was lacking. Talking to other students from better schools, I realized my school district heavily lacked exposure. Exposure to different career paths and different areas of study. Exposure to different subjects that could really influence a student’s motivation to do better in class in general. Every year I returned to my high school and helped in tutoring and mentoring in hopes of giving students the knowledge that I acquired in college. Through helping programs in my school district, I stumbled upon We Connect the Dots.
I began with We Connect the Dots in Summer of 2014, as I ended my sophomore year at Columbia. I was immediately attracted to the idea of being able to teach and mentor students about technology through programs offered by the organization. I am studying Computer Science and I am interested in most areas of technology with special interest in video games and robotics. One of my first projects with We Connect the Dots was to assist in teaching how to make games on XboxOne using a program called Project Spark. While I first thought I was going to be doing more One to One mentoring turned out to be teaching a session in front of others. Public speaking was never one of my strengths and quite frankly made me extremely nervous. I did my best to prepare for my teaching session, however, it fell a little flat.
In order to raise awareness for ourselves, We Connect the Dots wanted to interview and record me so I would be able to analyze and critique myself. I did an interview with Laurie Carey and later watched the recording. I have to say, it was pretty awkward! That experience, however, was extremely enlightening. I became more aware of my quirks when talking about myself or being asked a question that may not seem as professional when in an interview. After watching the recording, we did another interview which was also recorded. The second interview turned out so much better than the first! This, I did not know, would be my first steps into becoming a better public speaker.
By incredibly coincidence, shortly after this experience I was asked to do an interview that would appear on a commercial for JetBlue airlines. Carrying what I learned with Laurie’s interviews in my back pocket, I managed to impress the media people from JetBlue! They commented on how comfortable and natural I appeared to be when they were setting me up for and during the interview. Admittedly, that was definitely a confidence boost. Snippets from my interview were posted in the commercial which has been airing on every JetBlue flight since Fall of 2014 (and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoGKWJOueKw. I figured, thousands of people watch me speak a day, public speaking is nothing compared to that.
Time and time again We Connect the Dots has put me outside of my comfort zone by having me speak in front of others. By being part of this organization I have really learned to “get uncomfortable to get comfortable”. This has ranged from teaching small sessions, talking about my experience in the organization at Microsoft’s Women Leadership Conference, and even leading my own week-long game-development conference for We Connect the Dots!
All the learning I have done as part of We Connect the Dots came full circle when I was given the opportunity to be the Keynote Speaker for my high school’s graduation. Since my time with We Connect the Dots I have broken out of my shell and had the courage to stand in front of an audience of parents, family, teachers, administrators, and the graduating class of 2015 giving advice and how, despite not being as well off as others, they can still accomplish their dreams just as all my experiences have put me on the path to accomplish mine. I spoke to accepting failure as an instrument to learn and to get uncomfortable to get comfortable, just as We Connect the Dots taught me. I have enjoyed my time with this incredible organization and love my role as a Student Ambassador, being able to share my knowledge and hopefully inspire others to follow their passions and not be afraid to break out of their shell. Keep up the amazing work WCTD!
I hope you enjoyed hearing how our organization is impacting students and will support our efforts to do more.
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Giving Tuesday is TODAY we hope you will help us reach our goal.